Havarti cheese is made in Denmark. In the cheeseworld, Havarti is what is known an an institutional or factory made cheese. Among cheese fanciers that means Harvarti is not a serious cheese as it has no defining characteristics. Harvarti is soft and very bouncy. It is smooth and buttery to the palate and it has no texture known to mankind other than complete mush. Artisanal cheeses on the other hand, can exude such deep complexities in flavor, textures, and smells that most people believed they are spoilt. I know a family who was once on holiday in France and purchased a piece of Livarot from the local cheesemonger for a picnic in the countryside. When they sat down to their riparian repast and unwrapped their prized piece of cheese, the smell was so offensive to their nostrils that the father, who had served as a colonel in an earlier British kerfluffle in Afghanistan, immediately set to burying it. Harvarti would never provoke such response as it has no smell other than cooked milk, unless it is flavoured with herbs. But fortunately for Denmark, people across the world, especially children, love the inoffensive Havarti. It is so popular that you can find Havarti in great quantities any supermarket in the world except, now of course because of the boycott the Muslim world is enforcing against Danish products, any supermarket in the Middle East. How did it happen that the little state of Denmark is now persona non gratia with the entire Middle East? Well, I believe I know but first I must clear up an error I made yesterday.
Yesterday, in The New British Stiff Upper Lip, I said that the London police did not arrest any protestors in latest Muslim outrage of the day. I was wrong. According to the Daily Telegraph the boobies, I mean bobbies did make some arrests. They arrested two fellas who were protesting the protestors:
"Scotland Yard said a decision not to arrest protesters was taken because of public order fears. It confirmed that police had received more than 100 complaints from the public about the protesters' behaviour.
"On Friday 500 demonstrators marched from Regent's Park Mosque to the Danish embassy in Knightsbridge to protest at the publication of "blasphemous" cartoons in a Danish newspaper, and subsequently in other countries and on the BBC.
"Yesterday, more than 1,000 demonstrators staged a second protest outside the embassy. The only arrests made were of two men found carrying cartoons of Mohammed. Police said they had been detained "to prevent a breach of the peace".
A thousand people displaying serious anger management problems with small children in tow screaming death to anyone scribbling a picture of their prophet is not considered a breach of peace but two guys carrying cartoons of Mohammed are? The Daily Telegraph article mentions that about 100 complaints were lodged with the police about the protestors by other members of the public yet the police took no action. I find this odd because it just about 6 weeks ago a nice and well-spoken British gentlewoman received a call from her local constabulary over one complaint lodged by a offended member of the public over some reasonable, and now, in light of the ones expressed by the London protestors, completely harmless remarks she had made in regards to same-sex civil unions on BBC radio.
It was the inestimable Melanie Phillips in her great piece Cartoon Jihad (2) who uncovers why it might just be that the Muslim world is enraged about 12 cartoons printed LAST September in an obscure little Danish paper. A rage that is so fervant, that has provoked a response so over the top (the burning of the Danish Embassies now being the latest incarnation of rage) not just in Denmark but now has spread to other parts of Europe, to England, and to the Middle East. The possible answer lies 6 paragraphs up from the bottom of her article :
"The cartoon jihad (2)
"The still escalating confrontation over the Danish cartoons dramatically illustrates the now pathological reluctance of the leaders of Britain and America to face up to the blindingly obvious and the extent to which they have already run up the white flag in the face of clerical fascism. With holy war declared openly upon the west, with death threats being issued against cartoonists and editors, with Danes, Scandinavians and other Europeans being hunted for kidnap and in fear of their lives, with blood-curdling intimidation, with mob demonstrations, calls to behead westerners and rallying cries for ‘holy war’ by Islam against Europe, the governments of Britain and America are busy prostrating themselves before this terror, apologising for ‘causing offence’ and blaming the victims of this assault; while their intelligentsia earnestly debates whether it is wrong to insult someone else’s religion, for all the world as if this were a university ethics seminar rather than a world war being waged by clerical fascism against free societies and with people in hiding and in fear of their lives for having exercised the right to protest at religious violence and intimidation.
"Thus the spineless British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said:
"There is freedom of speech, we all respect that, but there is not any obligation to insult or to be gratuitously inflammatory. I believe that the republication of these cartoons has been unnecessary, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong.
"While in the US, according to the Times, State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said:
"We all respect freedom of the press but...inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.
"Subsequently another State Department apparatchik tied himself up in knots in this press briefing trying simultaneously to condemn religious insults and defend freedom of speech against intimidation:
"Our response is to say that while we certainly don’t agree with, support, or in some cases, we condemn the views that are aired in public that are published in media organizations around the world, we, at the same time, defend the right of those individuals to express their views. For us, freedom of expression is at the core of our democracy and it is something that we have shed blood and treasure around the world to defend and we will continue to do so. That said, there are other aspects to democracy, our democracy — democracies around the world — and that is to promote understanding, to promote respect for minority rights, to try to appreciate the differences that may exist among us.
"Er... right. Would anyone really ‘shed blood and treasure’ to defend such equivocation?
"Yet while declaring that free speech should be limited to avoid being insulting or gratuitously inflammatory, Britain also believes that it should be totally unlimited when Muslims incite mass murder.
"For two days now, hundreds of Muslims have been demonstrating outside the Danish Embassy in London. ‘Bomb bomb Denmark’ and ‘Nuke nuke Denmark' they roared yesterday. Their placards screamed: ‘Exterminate those who slander Islam’, ‘Behead those who insult Islam’, ‘Europe you’ll come crawling when muhajideen come roaring’, ‘As Muslims unite we are prepared to fight’, ‘Europe you will pay, fantastic four are on their way’ ( a presumed reference to last July’s suicide bombers in London).
"This was outright and sustained incitement to violence and to murder. What action was taken against the perpetrators? Nothing. Let’s hear what Jack Straw said again, that freedom of speech carried no obligation ‘to insult or to be gratuitously inflammatory’. Now look at what happened when passers-by angered by yesterday’s demonstration in London thought that what they were seeing went far beyond Straw’s definition of what was intolerable. As the Times reports:
"There were sporadic clashes with passers-by over chants praising the four British-born suicide bombers who killed 52 passengers on three Underground trains and a London bus last July 7. People who tried to snatch away what they regarded as offending placards were held back by police. Several members of the public tackled senior police officers guarding the protesters, demanding to know why they allowed banners that praised the ‘Magnificent 19’ — the terrorists who hijacked the aircrafts used on September 11, 2001 — and others threatening further attacks on London. The officers said that their role was to ensure public order and safety. Police had closed off main roads to allow the procession a clear route. Protesters screamed: ‘UK, you must pray — 7/7 is on its way.’ Organisers of the protest insisted that there would be more rallies over the weekend and predicted that British Muslims would lead the backlash against those mocking Islam.
"Of course they will – because Britain is leading the retreat. The man of straw congratulated the British media for their restraint in not republishing the Danish cartoons, praising them for what he called their ‘considerable responsibility and sensitivity’. A Foreign Secretary might manage to keep a straight face when talking cobblers, but really! The British media have hardly been overcome after all these years by a sudden and wholly uncharacteristic outbreak of cultural sensibility. The reason they didn’t republish the cartoons was because they were terrified of provoking a violent reaction against themselves.
"In other words, the intimidation has worked. The media are now craven. Self-censorship over Islam has been the order of the day ever since the Rushdie affair – and it was instructive to see that yet more ‘moderate’ British Muslims have been saying that the cartoons would never have been published had Rushdie been killed. That’s the kind of comment that these days doesn’t even merit any comment in dhimmi Britain. Now the BBC faces the threat of violence, even though it did not even show the cartoons properly but just wafted them across the screen. Not craven enough, chaps! Memo to programme editors: must take care to abase selves unequivocally in future.
"Britain’s culture of denial means that even now, the issue is being presented as one of freedom of speech. But it is ever more obvious that this is a war on the west, prosecuted in the name of Islam against the west’s core values – and against those moderate Muslims who are also alarmed by what is now so clearly erupting.
"The cartoon jihad has caused protests in Sudan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan where 800 people converged on the Danish mission in Islamabad. The Pakistan Government has called for economic and political sanctions against ‘offending’ countries that supported publication. The Telegraph reported:
"Mullah Krekar, a radical imam living in Norway, was quoted by the Dagbladet daily as saying: ‘These drawings are a declaration of war.’ But other Muslim community groups called for moderation and calm. Norway’s Islamic Council said in a statement: ‘Muslims in Norway feel violated twice in this case - first through the caricatures then by the Norwegian flag being burned’...
"In Sudan, protests at the cartoons attracted as many as 15,000 people. Politicians then led the crowds in a march on the United Nations offices in Khartoum and called for holy war against any move to send a UN force to Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region. In Iraq, thousands of people took to the streets after Friday prayers. Christians said they feared retaliatory attacks. In the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, more than 150 Muslim extremists stormed an office building housing the Danish embassy. They pelted a Danish coat of arms with eggs then tore down a Danish flag and burnt it.
"Even more striking has been the reaction of Palestinians in Gaza:
"An imam in Gaza City told 9,000 worshippers that those behind the drawings should have their heads cut off. Protesters in Ramallah chanted: ‘Bin Laden, our beloved, Denmark must be blown up.’ About 10,000 demonstrators, including Hamas gunmen firing in the air, marched through Gaza City to the Palestinian legislature, where they climbed on to the roof and waved Hamas banners.
"‘We are ready to redeem you with our souls and our blood, our beloved Prophet,’ they chanted. ‘Down, down Denmark.’ Before dawn, Palestinian militants threw a pipe bomb at a French cultural centre in Gaza City and many Palestinians started boycotting European goods, especially those from Denmark.
"Foreign diplomats, aid workers and journalists began pulling out of Palestinian areas because of kidnapping threats against some Europeans. Gunmen in Nablus briefly kidnapped Christopher Kasten, 21, a German teaching English at a local school. Palestinian police rescued him unharmed.
"Suddenly, the veil has lifted. Denmark of course has no form whatsoever in the Middle East dispute. Now the Palestinians are suddenly revealed as part of the Islamic jihad against the infidels. Well, there’s a surprise. The canny guys in Hamas have spotted this particular elephant trap and are taking steps to avoid it. The Times reports:
"In demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza yesterday a preacher told 9,000 worshippers at one mosque: ‘We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible [for the cartoons]’ But as thousands converged on the Palestinian parliament building, Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman, told the crowd that, whatever their anger, they should not disgrace their religion.
"Let us remind ourselves again – the cartoons were not an attack on Islam. They were instead a protest against the violent intimidation being practised in its name after the author of a (totally inoffensive) children’s book about Islam had difficulty in finding an illustrator because artists feared they might be attacked. Since then, the violence that has erupted across the world has more than proved the cartoonists’ point. This was noted by Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French foreign minister, who in striking contrast to his British straw counterpart said in the Telegraph:
"‘It is not normal to caricature a whole religion as an extremist or terrorist movement.’ But the extreme reaction to the cartoons ‘would suggest the caricaturists were right,’ he added.
"The problem is that the perpetrators of aggression, suffering from a pathological inferiority complex about the weakness of Islamic culture and firmly believing the lies and libels with which they have been indoctrinated about Jews and the west, invert their own aggression as an attack upon Islam by their victims.
"Thus the Times reported remarks by Liaqat Hussain, the secretary of the Bradford Central Mosque, who although adding as a postscript that any protest should be peaceful nevertheless turned the cartoons from a defence against Islamist intimidation into evidence of a world-wide attack upon Islam.
"‘This is clearly a demonstration by the Christian world of hostility towards the Muslim community,’ he said. ‘This has come from all the nations of Europe and it reflects an ongoing campaign against Muslims by the Western powers. You can’t differentiate between the Western world and Christianity; you can’t separate what’s happened from the people of those countries and their governments. I blame all of the Western population because these cartoons reflect the opinion of the people.’ He said that the publication of the cartoons across Europe was a deliberate act of provocation. ‘We have already seen the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia and we’ve witnessed the support by Christians and the West for Israel and its atrocities against the Palestinians,’ he said. ‘Now we’re seeing the early stages of creating a suitable environment for a Muslim holocaust in Europe.’
"The madness of this protest deepens when one considers that the claim at its heart, that pictorial representations of the Prophet are forbidden in Islam, is not true. Like so much else, it is all a matter of interpretation; but the fact remains that there have been many representations of the Prophet in Islamic art over the centuries. This website shows many images of the Prophet in medieval Islamic paintings and illuminated manuscripts, some showing his face in full, others with it blanked out.
"In the Telegraph, Charles Moore makes an excellent point:
"There is no reason to doubt that Muslims worry very much about depictions of Mohammed. Like many, chiefly Protestant, Christians, they fear idolatry. But, as I write, I have beside me a learned book about Islamic art and architecture which shows numerous Muslim paintings from Turkey, Persia, Arabia and so on. These depict the Prophet preaching, having visions, being fed by his wet nurse, going on his Night-Journey to heaven, etc. The truth is that in Islam, as in Christianity, not everyone agrees about what is permissible. Some of these depictions are in Western museums. What will the authorities do if the puritan factions within Islam start calling for them to be removed from display (this call has been made, by the way, about a medieval Christian depiction of the Prophet in Bologna)? Will their feeling of 'offence' outweigh the rights of everyone else?
"Obviously, in the case of the Danish pictures, there was no danger of idolatry, since the pictures were unflattering. The problem, rather, was insult. But I am a bit confused about why someone like Qaradawi thinks it is insulting to show the Prophet's turban turned into a bomb, as one of the cartoons does. He never stops telling us that Islam commands its followers to blow other people up.
"Moore also asks a very pertinent question. Since the cartoons were actually published last autumn and protests at the time were confined to demonstrations in Denmark, why have they only now erupted across the world?
"One possible if dismaying answer, which should receive more attention, is suggested by David Conway on the Civitas website yesterday:
"But who wanted or caused the heat to become so turned up and why at that this particular moment? The clue to the answers to this second question lies in a second event almost certain to occur to today, if it has not already happened by the time this blog gets posted. This is the likely decision today in Vienna by the International Atomic Energy Agency to report Iran to the UN Security Council for continuing with its programme of nuclear research. If that decision should occur, when the UN Security Council gets round to considering what form of sanctions to impose on Iran, guess to whom chairmanship of the Council will have passed. You’ve got it... plucky little Denmark.
"Suddenly, the pieces fall into shape. The rumpus suddenly escalated, complete with fabricated offensive cartoons, to so enflame Muslim opinion that Denmark could be intimidated directly through a threatened Muslim boycott of its goods, or indirectly by the EU fearful of a wider boycott, into voting in favour of Iran.
"Whatever the Security Council eventually may decide over sanctions against Iran, it is unlikely to deter that country from continuing to develop the technology needed to manufacture nuclear weapons, Prospect of its acquisition of them is likely to trigger a nuclear arms race in the region, as well as, sooner or later, oblige Israel or the US to make some pre-emptive strike against it to prevent its programme from reaching completion.
"At best, such a strike will succeed, but not without precipitating a conventional war in the Middle East the repercussions of which will not escape Europe in the form of suicide bombings. At worst, pre-emption will fail, Iran will acquire nuclear weapons, and, with a President of that country as gung-ho as its current one, we all receive tickets for a one-way trip to oblivion.
"It is not a thrilling prospect for sure. But that is all the more reason why the West needs to remain strong, united, and resolved to resist the challenge of militant Islam. If Europe has recently been made more so than it has been of late, it has to thank for that, paradoxically, the malicious militancy of the mullahs and imams whose fabrication of the grounds of the current crisis has given the West a second wake-up call to the true scale and nature of the current danger that it faces to which all too many Europeans failed to have become alerted by the first wake-up call given on September 11th.
"Whether or not Conway is right about this, the cartoon jihad has made one thing crystal clear. No more alibis. The roots of global terror do not lie in Iraq, nor in Israel/Palestine, nor in Chechnya, Kashmir or any of the other iconic conflicts which are said to be its cause. They lie instead in the Islamists’ rage that their religious culture is not in power across the world, their determination to subordinate that world to its tenets and their truly pathological belief that it is they who are under attack if their victims dare defend themselves. Twelve scribbled drawings have lifted the veil -- on both the nature of the threat and the disarray that greets it."
Interesting huh? Let us hope that cooler heads will prevail in this and we will go forth together to deal with this latest threat to the Western way of life. In the meantime, buy Danish products. We're having Knorr Veggie Dip with Fritos tonight with the Superbowl. Knorr has several meal-enhancing packets. I purchased one for Sauerbraten for later this week. Tomorrow, when the children are at school I may just go to the toy store and load up on Legos. I'm also conteplating serving the children toasted Havarti sandwiches with tomato soup for lunch for the next month or two. Hey, all of this is much more preferable than to witness Roger Kimball's future daughter-in-law walking down the aisle to her betrothed clad in a burka.